Lessons from Celery
On the seed packet, it claims that celery requires 120+ days to grow. That's over four months, a third of a year, a long time. As someone with a complete and utter lack of patience, this celery-growing experiment was good for me. It taught me the importance of keeping an end goal in mind, no matter how hopeless the current situation might seem.
In March, I started the celery seed in egg cartons, placing three seeds in each egg compartment. There were about thirty minuscule, green wisps that emerged. When we planted outside in late May, there were maybe eighteen decent seedlings. Fast forward to mid-summer, when the plants (down to six now) actually started to resemble celery. Up to this point, I had been feeling dejected about the celery's lack of progress, but seeing these few strong plants gave me a glimmer of hope. I envisioned chopping up a stalk into snack-size sticks and slathering it with homemade almond butter, contented that this celery was mine, all mine. On October 15th, I did just that. Despite the unexpected wait, I could be satisfied in knowing that I had grown my own food from the very beginning to the end.
There are things we cannot change. Take for instance, the weather. In mid-April, there was a freak blizzard that swept over northern Wisconsin, transforming the region into a winter wasteland where four-foot snow drifts were commonplace. Needless to say, this storm pushed back the growing season by a few weeks. I had started my celery seedlings prior to this, with hopes of getting them in the ground so they would have time to grow fully before harvesting in late summer. The blizzard threw a bit of a wrench into these plans.
This sort of uncontrollable occurrence reminds me of an early Little House on the Prairie episode. Right before harvest time, Pa Ingalls is pictured standing in the wheat fields, holding a fistful of beautiful grain. He looks heavenward, thanking God for a good year. That very evening, a hail storm destroys the crops. The Ingalls family had to accept the fate of the storm, but they also found the courage to change what they could. Pa found other work. The women harvested and dried any salvageable grain. They kept on.
Gardening (and Little House on the Prairie) can teach us that while bad things may be unavoidable, we can work hard to make the most of what's left. Which brings me to the next point...
My celery plants didn't get a chance to grow to maturity. Two plants were pretty strong, but the rest were rather spindly. Overall, we got about half a gallon of "snacking stalks." Even though the rest was not perfect, it was still packed with flavor. All the leaves and tiny stalks were chopped up fine to be used in soups. Chef Jacques Pepin always says, "We waste nothing in the kitchen." We make the most of what we have.
Well, that concludes my philosophizing for this garden season. More to come in spring! :)
'Til next time,